GOATHEMY is another band that can be added to the already existing swarm of Finnish Metal bands incorporating catchy melodies in their work. To put it more exactly they try – at least when you read the band info – to plant their melodic ideas on the rough and seemingly infertile Black Metal land, seemingly as numerous ensembles have already trodden this path before, more or less successfully. “Torn” is the second attempt from the Finns and consists of ten songs expressing among others scepticism towards Christian beliefs.
One does not have to wait long to notice that this release includes something more than just Black Metal decorated with catchy passages. The opening effort called “The Wanderer” would as a matter of fact suit more a Pagan Metal album as its tranquil and melancholic content (combined acoustic and electric guitars sequences) makes one think of open landscapes rather than some blasphemous rites. Thanks to the way the guitar tracks were recorded, this instrumental piece offers a lot of space with a pretty distinctive epic flavour and bands like AGALLOCH come immediately to mind. It is definitely the best thing on this disc for what appears in the next tracks is just a bland mixture of blackish and Death aesthetics reflected mainly in the unrefined riffs and harsh vocals plus some inspiration from Gothic Metal, which emerges primarily in a number of chorus parts. These in turn are much enhanced thanks to the contribution from Teija Ruohoniemi, whose pleasing clean singing helps occasionally in lifting the music to a higher level (especially in “Void Of Crown”) and makes you forget for a while about the mediocre rest.
Right, the longer one ventures into “Torn” the more sound obstacles one has to encounter. Not only is the music getting somewhat worse but it also – and this is one of my most serious reservations here – becomes incoherent. In the old-school sounding “Liars To The Cross” we can hear some groovy Thrash Metal elements, which are simply speaking boring and the only bright side of this track are the lyrics sung almost the way Vorph of SAMAEL use to do. The presence of non-Black Metal influences makes itself felt also in “Dead Man’s Ashes”, whose nostalgic atmosphere is conjured up by the sluggish tempo and grim growling vocal section, something distinguishing Doom Metal releases. If you add to this the already mentioned introduction track, the feeling that the Finnish musicians are unable to decide which artistic direction to choose appears pretty naturally.
The majority of the album moments is played in slow or mid tempos and I guess I do not have to mention that such a recipe is not the most successful one, especially when the listener might become a bit sleepy. Focusing on production matters one can see that the things seem to be in the right place and what is most worth emphasis here is that the singing department – its female branch in particular – has been handled in the mix in a very good way adding some freshness and space to the whole work.
To sum it up, GOATHEMY have surely the basic knowledge of how to grow plants in the land of Metal music, yet it needs much more fantasy and skills to transform their – at this moment – humble small garden into a real plantation. New effective ways of fertilizing ought to be introduced as soon as possible for otherwise the prospects for the future will be rather bleak.
(Online February 13, 2009)